Handgun permits up in IW

Published 6:57 pm Monday, January 20, 2020

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By Diana McFarland


The election of a Democratic majority in the Virginia General Assembly not only sparked the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement, it also likely led to a nearly 58 percent increase in concealed handgun permits in Isle of Wight County.

In 2018, the Isle of Wight County Clerk’s Office signed off on 64 permits in November and 57 in December.

This year, that jumped to 74 permits in November and 90 in December, according to Isle of Wight County Circuit Court Clerk Sharon Jones.

Interestingly, there were more concealed handgun permits issued in 2018 — 903 —than in 2019 with 875, according to Jones, adding that this year the applications began to increase in July.

Old Dominion Guns in Virginia declined to comment on gun sales since the election.

Gun rights advocates are concerned that newly elected Democratic majority will introduce, and pass, a slew of new laws aimed at restricting certain types of firearms, magazines and other paraphernalia. Others are simply convinced Democrats will take their guns away altogether.

In response, gun-rights groups are calling on its members to head to Richmond on Jan. 20 to rally on Lobby Day at the Capitol. Out-of-state groups such as Oath Keepers plan to send a leadership team and trainers to Virginia.

The Virginia’s Citizen’s Defense League, which led the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement, has a list of buses from many localities in Virginia for those wanting to attend the rally.

The VCDL claims that there are 116 Second Amendment Sanctuary counties, towns and cities in the Commonwealth. On that list is Isle of Wight and Surry counties, which stopped short of declaring a Second Amendment Sanctuary and instead opted to be Constitutional Counties — meaning the two localities support the U.S. Constitution.

Second Amendment Sanctuaries, on the other hand, have resolved not to enforce any unconstitutional (federal or state) gun laws, according to the VCDL.

When the General Assembly session begins Wednesday, legislators will begin debate on numerous gun-related bills ranging from a special license plate stating “Stop Gun Violence,” to Senate Bill 16, which appears to be generating the most concern among gun rights advocates. Introduced by Democrat Dick Saslaw, SB 16 calls for expanding the definition of an “assault firearm” and limits the size of magazines in public places, among other provisions.

Many of these gun control measures are hold-overs from a failed summer session, called shortly after the mass shooting in Virginia Beach.

Concealed carry permits have been on the rise in Isle of Wight, and not just because of the November election. In early 2018, The Smithfield Times reported that there were an estimated 4,000 individuals with concealed handgun permits in the county — meaning that one in seven adults in Isle of Wight has a permit to carry a concealed handgun, based on the 2016 census.

In years past, the Isle of Wight County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office estimated that they processed an average of 400 concealed handgun permits a year — considerably less than the past two years, as tensions have continued to rise over mass shootings and gun laws.


DIANA MCFARLAND is editor of The Smithfield Times. Contact her at news@smithfieldtimes.com.